Contemporary Music Reviews
The Eye.(Chamber Opera)
"His well crafted score is taut and often very attractive"
Chris Aspin Manchester Evening News.
"The highlight of the production was undoubtedly the vibrant score"
Natalie Anglesey Oldham Arts.
The St Petersburg Mass
"It is a work of great talent"
Alexander Polischuk Conductor of the Conservatoire Orchestra.
" Music of stunning orchestral virtuosity and emotional depth"
Victor Pleshak, Leading composer member of The Union of St Petersburg Composers.
"It is Music of the heart"
Professor Mussin, Head of conducting St Petersburg Conservatoire.
"According to the great composer Mussorgsky, 'Of greatest importance for a composer is his search for truth'; It is this truth we hear when we perform David Golightly's music"
Alexander Govorov, Conductor of the Rouss-land Soglasie choir of St Petersburg
The Music of David Golightly, by Alexander Govorov
David Golightly's Choral music was the first Western composer's music to become part of Soglasie's repertoire, following the Choir's first meeting with the composer in March 1993. I was greatly interested in his work from the first, particularly as I was familiar with the English style of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Tippett. David Golightly's work is indisputably English, but his music also reveals an Englishman with a Russian Soul.
As we rehearsed "Rites of Passage" we were inspired. Working our way towards a better understanding of the choral pieces, we discovered both the composer's love for Pushkin's poetry and the deep sincerity of his talent. The ideas and images of Pushkin's words expressed themselves through the composer's language of music.
The great Russian composer, Mussorgsky, said, "Of greatest importance for a composer in creating music is the search for truth". It is this truth we hear when we perform David Golightly's music.
Our further association with this talented English composer developed into a large scale co-operation, "The St Petersburg Mass ", which was composed for and commissioned by the Soglasie Choir. The premiere of this work in St Petersburg in May 1994 was a major event in the musical life of the city and many important artists and composers attended this unique occasion. Professor Mussin, who is head of Conducting at the St Petersburg Conservatoire, commented that it was "Music of the Heart". and it received a ten-minute standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience.
DAVID GOLIGHTLY Symphony no 1; Three Sea Scapes City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Gavin Sutherland) (recorded 28-30 August, 2000) ASC Records CS CD38 [54:41] Though he has composed extensively for theatre and film in this country, David Golightly+s music is better known abroad. In particular he has strong links with St Petersburg, for whose Rouss-land Soglasie Choir he wrote The St Petersburg Mass, which was received in the city to great acclaim. Indeed the choir''s conductor went so far as to describe him as ''The Englishman with a Russian soul''. His Piano Sonata recently received its first performance at New York''s Carnegie Hall, and will be heard later this month in Oxford. From the age of nine, he has been an ardent supporter of Middlesbrough FC, and this symphony must be regarded as being the first-ever which is not only dedicated to a football club and its chairman but an orchestral portrait of the game. In fact, the work''s programme is intensely personal. ''My symphony was composed as an attempt to chart in musical terms the struggles, successes and failures which I have encountered on life''s journey'', says the composer, and in it he has also sought to encapsulate the fluctuating fortunes of his team. Golightly possesses a distinctive musical voice ? tonal in idiom, by turns gritty and lyrical in style, but constantly underpinned by insistent rhythmic energy and clothed in assured orchestral colours. A feature of the first three movements is their enigmatic, throwaway endings. Richly-scored and impassioned though it is, the slow movement suggests that the composer is striving to rein in his romantic inclinations. But any inhibitions he may have are cast to the winds in the turbulent finale ? a portrait of an actual football match ? and the serene C major ending is utterly captivating. Given limited rehearsal time, young conductor Gavin Sutherland and his forces play with evident commitment ? only the somewhat fragmentary second movement shows signs of strain. Recording sound is vivid but lacks bloom and ambience. The disc is completed by Three Sea Scapes ? masterly arrangements of three shanties. Golightly is certainly a composer to watch, and this symphony is warmly recommended.
Reviewer: Adrian Smith Classical Music Web Site
The finale is ajaunty populist march, exotically scored with the two-part structure reflecting the two halves of the game. The orchestral fanfares depict the team scoring. It is a happy extrovert inspiration and receives a fine performance under Gavin Sutherland in Prague and a full-blooded recording. The three Seascapes further demonstrate Golightly''s vivid orchestral skill, using well-known folk-themes, like Shenandoah. The disc is available from Modrana Music Publishers Limited.
Penguin Mr Ivan March
DAVID GOLIGHTLY: Symphony No. 1, Three Sea Scapes. Golightly''s symphony is a big, ostinato-driven, muscular piece, tonal and constructed out of the musical equivalent of big, solid blocks, or painted in broad brush-strokes of primary colors. It seems to be the proof in music of Grainger''s words to the effect that the English are ''passionless about everything except football'' - because it is dedicated to a football club (Middlesbrough) and its manager, and extrapolates from these men of sport and mud to hypothetical Promethean strivers, builders and visionaries everywhere. Whether or not you are as passionate as Mr. Golightly about soccer, the symphony is one of those big-boned, tonal, neo-romantic pieces which can be relied upon to get the blood pumping a little faster. The Seascapes are appealing orchestral fantasias in familiar style, also bold and colorful. City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra; Gavin Sutherland. Reviewer Jeff Joneikis Records International
David Golightly: Symphony No 1: Three Sea-Scapes. City of Prague PO/Gavin Sutherland.
This symphony is unusual, perhaps unique, in being inspired by and supported by a football club (Middlesbrough, who are playing extracts on match days).There is otherwise little original football music: some songs, insignificant musically, one or two library "titles" and John Ireland's Housman setting Goal and Wicket.The strongly marked opening sets the scene:the deliciously scored, often delicate, scherzo expresses the joy of the club's Wembley visits, the Espressivo Sostenuto the pain of defeat. The marchlike finale,suggesting the excitement of a match day and, in wider terms, a questing journey through life, ends quietly, movingly indeed, as events on the field or through life are recollected in tranquillity. Some 45 minutes long, the Symphony is very accessible in idiom, a "Classic FM work",no more "difficult" than say George Lloyd or William Alwyn (Golightly, like Alwyn, has composed film music), with traces of Shostakovich;s influence. It is well argued, though the preludial first movement might be slightly shorter with advantage, and finely scored. The performance by the Prague players under Sutherland;s assured direction is excellent. The filler is attractive, too: a lightish suite, each movement based on a different sea-shanty: Fire Down Below, Shenandoah and Rio Grande. Worth investigating
Reviewer Philip L Scowcroft The British Music Society
David Golightly Symphony no 1 ? Middlesbrough Football Club Energetic sports and the high art might seem to be completely opposite expressions of human endeavour; one being concerned with sheer physical exuberance and even a macho triumphalism, the other with matters of the spirit: the intellect and the communication of subtle emotional experiences. Perhaps both are different sides of the same coin of human self-expression. David Golightly, former student of Huddersfield University Music Department ? in the days when it was a more modest Polytechnic ? was even then already a prolific composer, burgeoning with imaginative ideas. Now, years later, his imagination, no less his technique as a composer has matured. There are perhaps not many specifically avowed instances of sport directly inspiring serious music: certainly not symphonic music on the scale of this work dedicated to Golightly's admired Middlesbrough Football Club and its manager, Steve Gibson. The nearest that immediately comes to mind must surely be Honegger's Rugby of 1928. Many musicians and 'arty' people who might not at first sight be thought to have much interest in macho sports, do follow the fortunes of their favourite team, whether it be football, cricket, motor sport or whatever else. However, having declared a committed support of his team, and been hearteningly inspired by what it stands for, the music itself exists firmly on its own terms: it is after all, a pure and abstract symphonic creation. In this it succeeds most convincingly. The sleeve notes hint at Golightly's Russian connections, and this is aptly summarised by a Russian commentator, Alexander Govorov, who declares that the composer is the 'Englishman with a Russian soul'. It could well be that Golightly will come to be regarded as an English Shostakovich; there are numerous stylistic similarities to the Russian model: those driving motor rhythms, and characteristic, slender wisps of solo themes; and above all the relentless on-going energy, so often dark-toned and uncompromising. Perhaps its greatest asset is its most assured and brilliant sense of orchestral colour. As with Russian muse in general, this symphony is apt to be expansive in length, and it just could be thought that some of the material, despite its fascinating orchestration, might, in a purely musical-structural sense, benefit from some more subtle and varied thematic development rather than the ? particularly rhythmic ? repetition it tends to display. But there is no mistaking the fact that this is indeed an arresting and captivating symphonic piece of music; immediately approachable, its message clear and distinct.
Arthur Butterworth Philharmonic Magazine December 2000
Serenade for solo Tuba by David Golightly Piccolo Press.
The Serenade for solo Tuba was premiered by James Anderson, Professor of Tuba at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, England in May 1980. My only question is, why did it take so long to get published and into the repertoire of serious tubists all over the globe? It is definitely a welcome addition to the library of the solo tubist. Good solo pieces that are entertaining for audiences are quite hard to come by. This piece will most assuredly be one of those to join the ranks of Penderecki's Capriccio and Gregson's Alarum. The Serenade is set up in three movements and is metered throughout. The range of the work is from DD-g1. Movement One entitled March, is in 2/4 and m.m. equals 112. It is quite spirited in style and will require a performer with agile abilities to navigate through wide intervals and varied articulations. Movement Two is not your typical slow, melodic song that one would imagine from a title such as Elegy. It is extremely doloroso in nature and has the soloist soaring into the extreme upper range (g1) utilizing strict rhythmic patterns. The Gallop, movement three, is quite animated and encompasses mixed meters with the majority of the piece being in 6/8. Just when you think your triplets are moving along, a duple figure is thrown in to add variety to the melodic lines, which is actually quiet refreshing and prevents it from becoming a boring, technical exercise. As was stated before, this work will require a performer with great technique. Not for the less than advanced tubist. If you have conquered the other reputable solo tuba pieces, then this one should definitely be next.
Raul I. Rodriguez Tuba Journal 1998.
Moods for Solo Clarinet David Golightly Modrana Music Publishers Ltd
The most substantial and ambitious piece in this collection is undoubtedly David Golightly's Moods (1980) for solo clarinet, written for Roger Heaton who plays this rather difficult and technically demanding piece with consummate ease and assured technique. Golightly relies on a number of modern techniques, such as quarter tones, multiphonics, glissandi, breath tones and the like without ever giving the impression of mere experiment. Quite the contrary, each mood is vividly depicted with imagination and poetical insight. Obviously, to my ears at least, this is a major addition to the repertoire.
Reviewer Hubert Culot The British Music Society
Piano Trio Letters of Regret. (2001/2)
David Golightly''s piano trio Letters of Regret was commissioned by The Fenice Trio,
composed during the summer of 2001 and completed in February 2002. The first performance took place at the Middlesbrough Theatre in June 2002.
The work is in three movements (Demon, Angel and Regrets). Demon, the shortest movement of the work, opens with a rhythmical gesture from the piano, soon joined by the strings. This moderately fast movement is actually some sort of whimsical Allegretto sometimes of Russian flavour. Reviewing David''s First Symphony, the composer Arthur Butterworth remarked ôthat Golightly might well be a British Shostakovichö. Indeed, the Piano Trio calls the Russian composer to mind, particularly so in this slightly ironic movement that rises up to a short-lived ghostly climax abruptly cut short.
Angel opens mysteriously with ethereal static string textures softly punctuated by the piano.Later, the string''s sustained notes are gently accompanied by piano arpeggios. Then the strings, and later the piano, make some unsuccessful attempts at a tune, hesitantly so and with some glissandi contradicting the attempted melody. Eventually, the cello, followed by the violin, launches a sorrowful lyrical song, still disrupted by nervous interjections eventually short-lived.The Angel movement, though remains emotionally and harmonically ambiguous throughout.It too ends unobtrusively.
The Demon and Angel movements actually act as a twofold introduction to the last movement Regrets that is some sort of theme and seven variations, "a series of letters, written but not sent"as the composer remarks. This predominantly lyrical, often nostalgic movement is the emotional heart of what is obviously a deeply personal statement on the composer''s part.
Golightly''s Piano Trio is a superbly crafted, beautifully moving work, not unworthy its models(Shostakovich or John Ireland), and a highly personal, quite accessible work of substance that deserves wider recognition and that should be eagerly picked-up by trios willing to add a new substantial work to their repertoire.
Not so long ago the prospect of a new composition, a piece of contemporary music in an orchestral concert such as last nights would have filled most members of the audience with apprehension, if not dread.
How times have changed. Recent generations of composers have turned away from atonal astringencies and are actually communicating with concertgoers again. This was certainly the case with the main item on last nights programme by the enterprising Orchestra of the Square Chapel. Already notable for unusual repertoire it now had a world premiere to offer.
This was the Concerto for Flute by the Cheshire composer David Golightly and while it was an undoubted challenge for soloist, orchestra and for conductor Lawrence Killian, it presented the audience with no barrier to enjoyment.
Not that the concerto was a piece of easy listening. Its three, ambitious movements had material that ranged from spiky, modern rhythms to plangent passages based on ancient modalities.
The composer was aiming at and frequently achieved a spiritual dimension, especially in the slow central movement. Elsewhere the orchestra was used to provide a pulsating rhythmic platform for the solo flutes leaping phrases.
The final movement was tantamount to a concerto grosso for flute and tuned percussion. In this the excellent performance throughout by flautist Stuart Coldwell was matched by fine playing on vibraphone and xylophone by Graham Butcher and Ronan McKee.
Not only was the concerto a premiere, it was, the composer informed us, the first time an established English orchestra had played any of his original music.
William Marshall Halifax Evening Chronicle
Even more atmospheric are songs from the cycle "Songs of the Clifftop" by David Golightly. These describe sea-birds and natural sights on a cliff over the ocean. The vividness of the images is described well. "The Sea Bird" seems to float soundlessly in the air, just as a sea-bird circles in flight, hovering, not flapping. This music is keenly observed, as if the composer has spent time alone with nature, understanding its pulse. It is subtle, and unobtrusive, as if the composer knows that anything too emphatic might startle the birds and send them fleeing. It is made for visual imagination û how beautiful and effective it would be combined with a good, sensitive nature documentary, that most noble form of British film art. It would also be a rewarding challenge to perform in recital.
The English composer David Golightly studied music in Huddersfield with Richard Steinitz. He was born in County Durham and now lives in the North-East. A career as a freelance commercial orchestrator included making the arrangements used by the Latvian soprano Inessa Galante in her Campion CDs. His music is well worth watching out for as was well and truly announced some five years ago with the issue of his First Symphony (see review).
This is the second all-Golightly disc. It concentrates on his music for male voice chorus topped up with other people's arrangements of fourteen Russian folksongs.
Golightly's two groups of songs explore the poignant melancholy of Alexander Pushkin in Rites of Passage. He is here in the same territory as two twentieth century Russian masters who have set Pushkin for chorus: Georgy Sviridov and Boris Tchaikovsky. As for Golightly's other work featured here not all that long ago it would have been unthinkable for a Russian choir to have recorded or even sung a sequence of American folksongs (mostly of 'cowboy' origin). Frontiers includes such Western favourites as The Chisholm Trail, Shenandoah and The Streets of Laredo - songs also used to glowing effect in Roy Harris's unbuttoned Symphony No. 4 Folksong recently recorded by Marin Alsop for Naxos.
In the two Golightly sequences the stride and shaping of each song apart from Shenandoah is aided and enriched by the assertively recorded piano of Dmitri Tepliakov.
Golightly's style is exuberant and forward, emotional and exciting. He knows the human voice well and I suspect was delighted to be able to write for a fully professional choir, as here. In fact some of this reminded me of another British composer, the late Geoffrey Bush.
The Pushkin songs, setting translations into English by Henry Jones, are sung and recorded with a warmth the emotional and calorific value of which will thaw the coldest heart and hands. The choir must have been very close up to the microphones which caused my headphones some stress in several fortissimo passages. There is a striking gauntness and iron-bell stoniness about the final song Elegy. The accent of the soloist is quite thick in The Singer so the words cannot always be picked out. You hear the same thing in the five American folk songs of Frontiers. Still it compares nicely with the sometimes cheesy collegiate brilliance of Stokowski's recording of the Roy Harris Folksong symphony (was the choir any better on the Abravanel EMI Angel recording - it never made it to CD). These are settings with blood coursing through the veins. The choir make a specially telling effect in Shenandoah and they do so without succumbing to the many invitations to sentimentality. Superb stuff ... and my do you hear the Russian bass resonance! The pace of The Streets of Laredo is surprisingly leisurely when compared with the Roy Harris - much more elegiac but with a skip in the step. It works well! The setting of John Hardy is vehemently and grippingly lively.
We now leave Golightly for some arrangements of Russian folksongs by Alexander Sveshnikov - a name well known as the great conductor of the reference Melodiya recording of Rachmaninov's Vespers - and by Govorov, Bogdanov, Schwartz and Nikitin. These are shot through with vibrancy. The boozy humour and flighty lightheartedness is carried off to perfection in the triumphantly virtuosic Along the Piterskaya Street with much interplay between the choir and bass Gennadi Martemianov. The melancholy dreaminess of the suave The Bell is Jingling (surely that should be ringing) monotonously makes an unconscious connection with Negro spirituals. The echoes of Russian orthodox chant can be heard in full glory in Oh you are so broad the steppe. The snowdrifts melt is driven by the fast clip-clop of the woodblock. Familiar friends include the Song of the Volga boatmen here rendered as Volga hardworkers. Typically Russian is the lugubrious The steppe is all around with basso profundo Vladimir Chechnev taking the solo. The masculine roughened precision of What's your song about you gilded bee is well worth sampling. The floated gold of Igor Vozny's bel canto tenor is buoyantly sustained above the slow-rung bell evocations of Those evening bells. Kalinka, with its slowings and accelerations, is familiar and a pleasure to hear again.
The words for the Golightly songs are printed in full. Each of the folksongs is described in the booklet through a synopsis rather than a full text. They are sung in Russian. All the others on this CD are sung in English.
The print may be on the small side but the words of all the songs are printed in the booklet. A pity though that the playing times of each piece and of the whole disc is not given anywhere.
The first disc which offered the First Symphony, a work which shows the influence of Shostakovich, was stunningly well-recorded and a CD of the Second Symphony is much anticipated. I hope that we will not have to wait long.
Glorious Slav male voices compromised somewhat by distortion when the signal is under pressure of this typically intense Russian singing.